Saturday, December 31, 2005

Goodbye, 2005

Hey Soul mates,
thanks for supporting us all year. It's been a really good one. We've taken several important steps forward in our career and I'm pretty proud of what we've accomplished. There's still lots of work to be done. Thanks to everyone who recognizes the energy we do exert to put ourselves forth as entertainers.

So, what's gone on in 2005? January, we started the year by joining MySpace and sharing an acoustic bill with our good friends, The Waking Hours. Several of newest die-hard fans got their first look at us at that performance.

In the Spring, we prepared our newest songs for recording and went into the studio. Over the course of several weeks, beginning in May, our EP took shape. We started networking heavily to prepare the industry for the arrival of our new material.

August saw the first of our two huge shows at BB Kings. A combined 400 people saw us at those gigs and they were sufficiently raucous. The second performance was our CD release show, with several recording industry contacts in the audience we brought down the house.

Autumn was good to us. We posted our first two Number 1's on iRadio's Indie Airplay (A Talent For Loving & Done Lost My Mind). We followed that with our first interview on the Monday Show with Sara Routh. I think that was everyone's highlight for the year. The performances and the chat were lots of fun.

Then we wound up on Next Big Hit and with your help we topped their poll for two weeks with A Talent For Loving. As a result the song was named one of the "Best of 2005" and we hold onto third place currently, behind American Idol's Jasmine Trias.

While I was in Florida in October, I did a solo radio interview with Pop Garden Radio, 970 AM. About the same time, our track Everyone's Ingenue made its FM radio debut on the Great American Music Hour out of Virginia. Talk about a nice East Coast presence. It helped that we expanded our Atlantic fan base, specifically in West Palm & the DC area. Thanks, ladies!

Our EP made quite a splash, eh? 3 of the 4 tracks were recognized in some manner. I'll take that anytime. We also sent the record off to the SXSW music fest. Keep your fingers crossed for us to appear there. It became available on iTunes and has done quite well. Ah, this digital age. If you got an iTunes gift card for the holidays, be sure to pick up a RHS song or 4.

Just this month, we wrapped up the year with our first appearance at the Rumba Room opening for 80's recording stars DeBarge. It was a triumph for myself, as up to the day before the show, I was suffering from viral laryngitiis. We only played a dozen shows this year, but each was gratifying in its own way and each moved us ever closer to our goal of real international exposure, securing a deal that will allow us to quit our day jobs and tour, tour, tour. We want to see all of you in 2006!

Personally, the year has been filled with good things. A couple of trips out of LA, to Atlanta for my Father's premiere; to DC for a friend's wedding; to Vero for my Grandmother's 90th. Lots of quality concert-going too:
Duran Duran; Bob Dylan & Merle Haggard; The Go Go's; Ringo Starr; The White Stripes; ABC; Rolling Stones; and Paul McCartney.

The past week, I've been able to decompress from a solid 11 months of being band-busy. Taking stock of what we've done and haven't. I'm disappointed only in the amount of time it takes to accomplish the goals I've set for myself. It's taken loads of resources, financial and otherwise to get to where we've gotten. Again, thank you to all of you who appreciate our love and dedication to our music and to you.

So what next? We're going to revamp Rush Hour The look & layout will be completely upgraded in January with a relaunch topped by the release of our newest single, Everything My Heart Desires. And because we love you, we're simply going to give it away. We are scheduled to take the stage again in late February, details will follow.

Here's to 2006. The year of Rush Hour Soul. The year of the Soul Mate. Our year.
Love, Power, Peace

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Norm's Top 10 for 2005

Hey Soul Mates,
it's Christmas Eve and perhaps you've got to make one last run out to a Loss-Leader to pick up a gift for someone. Well, here's my year-end run down of the best of 2005 in music. I'm going to be a little lazy this year and not write a whole lot about the choices. Why? Well, many of these LPs got the full treatment earlier in the year when they arrived. But I do recommend all of them and hope that you may enjoy them, too.

In order of finish:
1. Get Behind Me Satan - The White Stripes. Simply the most interesting LP of the year.
2. The Emancipation Of Mimi - Mariah Carey. Call it a comeback. This is a contender for best pop album of the young millennium with Timberlake's Justified.
3. Late Registration - Kanye West. A tad long, but Gold Digger is the best single this side of A Talent For Loving.
4. You Could Have It So Much Better - Franz Ferdinand. Just a fun album of glammy Scots stomping.
5. A Bigger Bang - Rolling Stones. Their best in nearly 30 years. It really does have great songs.
6. Demon Dayz - Gorillaz. Like an 80's throwback jersey for the ears.
7. Don't Believe The Truth - Oasis. A nice return to form.
8. Bright Idea - Orson. Locals who are now opening for Duran Duran. Bravo, gang.
9. Chaos & Creation In The Backyard - Paul McCartney. Not so good as the Stones new LP, but solid for Macca. His best since Flowers in the Dirt.
10. Get Lifted - John Legend. I tired of this by year's end, but it was smoove while it lasted.
Honorable mention: A Time For Love - Stevie Wonder.

As we get closer to the Grammy's I'll have more to say about these choices as many of them got nominations. I also got to see five of the above artists perform this year. They all put on wonderful shows, with the White Stripes being the most mind-bending. Note: Concert of the year was ABC at the House of Blues.

My favorite (non-RHS) songs of the year:
Gold Digger - Kanye West (feat. Jamie Foxx)
My Doorbell - White Stripes. Although, Blue Orchid, got me to buy it in the first place.
Do You Want To? - Franz Ferdinand
Say Somethin' - Mariah Carey w. Snoop Dogg. Frankly every single from this album ranks.
Dirty Harry - Gorillaz
Rough Justice - Rolling Stones
Hollaback Girl - Gwen Stefani
Ordinary People - John Legend
Behind These Hazel Eyes - Kelly Clarkson
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - Paul McCartney with U2 (Live at Live8)

Happy Christmas and Happy Hannukah!
Love, Power, Peace on Earth

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

RHS Up For Best of 2005

Hey Soul Mates,
our song A Talent For Loving is up for Best Song of the Year on Next Big Hit. Just visit the forum and vote for us. Let's see what we can have to show for 2005.

I hope that everyone is having a good week in the run-up to Christmas. All my shopping is done. There wasn't much to do. Ha Ha.

Love, Power, Peace

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Beatles On The Brain

Hey Soul Mates,
Happy Christmas Week.

When I was in college, my dormmates used to tell me that all the time: You've got Beatles on the brain. Not a day went by in school that I didn't listen to a Beatles record or three. Well, it had been a while since I inundated my mind with Fabness. But the month of December has been a real throwback. It started slowly with the McCartney concert and the anniversary of Lennon's death. Then I got sick. And being home in bed, I got to watch a lot of TV. I thought I would catch up on some things lent to me including Let It Be. Over the course of a long weekend, I watched:
The Beatles First US Visit and all the bonus materials
Anthology discs 2-4
A Hard Day's Night, disc 2 supplements and interviews
The Beatles promotional videos
Let It Be
How I Won The War

Now, I'm working my way through the music. I hadn't listened to Beatles For Sale in years. All of my Beatles discs were just gathering dust. Having completed my collection long ago. It's been a blast revisiting their music in semi-chronological order. I also have a soft spot for Beatle Muzak and have been listening to those discs as well.

The Fab Four is where my musical education began. In fact, I'm certain I learned to read by following the lyrics on the back of the Sgt. Pepper LP. It's impossible to really describe what impact their music has had on my life. So, I'm not gonna try. I'm just going to throw With The Beatles and Past Masters Vol. 2 in the backpack and head to work.
Love, Power, Peace

Thursday, December 15, 2005

All This Love [show recap]

Hey Soul Mates,
you could call it a triumph for us at the Rumba Room last night. It was a FM radio-sponsored show; we supported a nationally known act. Pretty cool. We played our entire set for about 300 people who've never seen us before and didn't get a single cat-call or boo. In fact, the crowd was pretty good to us considering we played original songs. This was an audience that is used to cover bands preceding a national act with songs they've known for 20+ years. I'd say we acquitted ourselves handsomely. And we did look good in our reds and black.

During the crowd warmup before our set, Bryan's guitar was knocked over and out of tune. Not an auspicious start, considering it took us a solid two-minutes of dead-air after being introduced to get going. But then, we got going good. We certainly rocked harder on our funky numbers than this group was prepared for. It being an R&B crowd, our slow jams were the highlights of the night. I thought that Everything My Heart Desires was the peak of our performance. The sound at the Rumba Room was pristine on stage. Not a soul would have guessed that I couldn't even talk on Sunday. So I was very pleased with my recovery and with what I could hear meself doing on stage. I haven't felt that comfortable with a whole night's vocal sound in months. Kudos Rumba Room.

Our only misstep of the night was ending with our cover of Prince's Let's Go Crazy. That song works when we've got a huge crowd of our own, not necessarily in front of a seated audience of strangers. No excuses. It was shitty. But we established that we are not a cover band and dozens of people there complimented us. One even went out of her way to say "thank you for not playing covers all night." This was certainly an appreciative audience even if we baffled them with our own music.

Here's our set list for the evening:
Fall Out
U Had The $
Everything My Heart Desires
Bad Penny Blues (Gold Digger)
A Talent For Loving
Done Lost My Mind
Everyone's Ingenue
Let's Go Crazy

The DeBarge brothers were fierce. It was Chico (who had been a solo artist in the 90's) and James one of the middle brothers who was in the group, DeBarge. So the set was split between the two, who both played vintage rhodes keyboards and harmonized for each other. Chico opened with his solo material to hoots and hollers from the female members of the audience. But it was James who brought down the house with the family's trademark falsetto on hits like I Like It and All This Love, which we gave a standing ovation. They were both very friendly backstage, so it was cool to actually meet them and chat briefly.

Thanks to Randy Lopez who took a chance on booking us. And to DeBarge for topping a fun bill. Plus, a special thanks to the Soul Mates who made it to the show last night. It helped having a bunch of you in the front row singing along. We've been invited back and made a good impression on folks there. So, thank you.

I'll get cracking on the pictures this weekend. In the meantime, here's a visual sample of the Red Letter Night we had a the Rumba Room. Oye!

Love, Power, Peace

Monday, December 12, 2005

Well, I Left My Jag In Kansas City

Hey Soul Mates,
that's one of my all-time favorite movie lines. On occasion in real life, I've been able to say it. That bit of dialogue is from Silver Streak. My buddy Mike told me to say something about Richard Pryor. That man was funny. How about that?

I always looked forward to going to his movies as a kid: Bustin' Loose, Wholly Moses!, Brewster's Millions, The Toy and See No Evil, Hear No Evil. Plus, if you got to see his latest movie, you were "cool." We'd watch the rest on TV: Car Wash, Bingo Long, Greased Lightning and The Wiz to name a few [I know one of Bryan's all-time faves is Moving]. Just last month, I caught his big scene in Uptown Saturday Night on BET. These are not necessarily classics, but Mr. Pryor's performances were all enjoyable and there was a feeling of rebellion in watching him work. As a kid, it was like you were given a peek into the absurd, adult world through his humor. He was showing us how messed up America was, but also how to navigate the pitfalls. His characters were always up against it, but he usually managed to come out on top.

I can remember hearing news from older kids in the hood about Richard shooting up a car or setting himself ablaze. A wild life. I didn't really get to hear any of his recorded work until the last 10 years or so. And it is still hilarious. I just got through listening to his self-titled debut and That N**** Is Crazy. Of course, Richard was a direct influence on several of my favorite performers: Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle and Ol' Dirty Bastard. He's been missed for a long time. Thank goodness for recordings and video.

I'm feeling a little better. The throat is still very sore. But we practiced last night and it felt good to run through the songs. We are looking forward to Wednesday's show with DeBarge. Showtime is 8:45 for us.

Oh, the blogs on the Grammy noms and my year end Top 10 are on the way. Stay tuned.
Love, Power, Peace

Friday, December 09, 2005

Grammy Got It Right (pt.1)

Hey Soul Mates,
the Grammy nominations came out yesterday in the early a.m. I was going to comment on them immediately, but yesterday's blog had to be what it was. And today, I'm in no shape to write a lot. I've come down with a mother of a cold. My throat is constricted and I'm running a fever. Whoo. Add on to that, that I left 3/4 of a party-sized box of KFC crack-corn chicken at work, so I feel silly along with sick.

Needless to say, I'm pretty pleased with the work that has been recognized in this year's
Grammy nominations. I hope to have a full blog up by the end of the weekend. I'm off to bed for the next 48 hours. My apologies to whomever's Christmas parties I'm missing tomorrow.
Love, Power, Peace

Thursday, December 08, 2005

We Was Robbed, Johnny

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Originator At 73

"Do you know who I am? I am Little Richard!"

I overheard that shouted to a clerk at the US passport office on Wilshire Blvd. in Westwood, Jan. 17, 1996. That's the closest I've gotten to rock's true royalty. The Originator was about 30 feet away from me, decked out in a shiny black suit with gold trim, hair did and make-up applied. It was 7 a.m. and he was reading someone the riot act over a passport issue like they had taken away his name. And at 6' he was definitely not that little.

Less than a year earlier, I had the opportunity to be in the audience for the American Music Awards at the Shrine. In a 40 year salute to Rock & Roll, Little Richard backed by the reunited Go-Go's opened the show with a ripping version of Tutti Frutti. And that's the only other time I've seen him perform.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Penniman! We'd be living in nowheresville, population us, without you. His early publicity noted that was he was born on 12:01 am Christmas Day, 1935. A not so subtle flash of self-aggrandizement. But, the truth is out that Richard Penniman was born on Dec. 5, 1932.

Little Richard is everything he claims to be and more. The Originator, the Emancipator, the Architect of Rock & Roll. It's true. No musician has ever matched his energy or outrageousness on stage or record (or in their personal life). Oh, some have tried and come close. But they owe everything to Richard. Most of my favorite artists are directly descended from Little Richard's 78's for Specialty Records. His heyday was brief, less than 2 years between 1956-1958. But he built the bedrock for all that followed. Prince, Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Mick Jagger & Elton John all built on what Richard started. James Brown followed in the Georgia Peach's footsteps. Elvis and everyone else covered his hits or tried. Jimi Hendrix was a backup musician for Little Richard in the '60's. The Beatles opened for him on tours in the UK and copied his trademark "Whooo!" for their biggest British Invasion hits. That's how huge Richard's scope is in the history of pop music. Now, artists like Andre 3000 and myself carry Richard's banner.

Arguments that anyone else made Rock & Roll what became fall flat. Nothing touches Tutti Frutti for pure attitude and spirit. The opening line is still the most singular in pop music. Everyone knows it, even if you don't know the rest of the song (but, you do). That is the big bang of popular music. There were Rock & Roll recordings that preceded it, but that was like the energy gravitating toward that moment that it would explode forth as "Womp Bop A Loo Mamb A Lop Bomp Bomp!" It's hard to hear the song now and contemplate its power, without thinking about all that has come after it. Copied it, exploited it, lampooned it, watered it down. My friend Bob says that Richard outlived his legend and became parody. Possibly. Eddie Murphy's hilarious spoofs of Richard in the 80's didn't help. But listen to those Specialty sides and you'll hear everything you ever needed to know about Rock & Roll. [Most of those records were cut in New Orleans with the most ferocious and famous session players of the day. Again, underscoring the importance of the Crescent City's impact on our cultural history]

Hits like Tutti Frutti, Long Tall Sally, Rip It Up, Lucille and Good Golly, Miss Molly are essential to any musical collection or any discussion of what popular music in the 20th and 21st centuries is about. Naturally, Richard was in the inaugural class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. What do I take from his music, his statements? Be bold. Look good. Let your self burst forth on stage and in life. And don't knock the rock! I'm forever indebted to Little Richard.

So, Little Richard is 73 today. I would love to actually meet him someday. I hear his performances, though rare, are still potent. Filled with humor, self-righteousness and awesome tunes. That's Rock & Roll! Long live King Richard.
Ooh, my soul!

Love, Power, Peace.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Contest To See RHS & DeBarge Has Begun

Hey Soul Mates,
we've begun a contest that is open to all of our friends on MySpace. So if you aren't a member, it's a decent reason to sign up. We are offering a free pair of passes to see us open for DeBarge on Wednesday, Dec 14, 2005. Visit our MySpace page for all the details. All you have to do to enter is leave the sassiest, funniest, best comment for us on our MySpace page. Check our blog there for rules, etc. The band will be judging the entries. We have a pretty creative bunch of fans, so I'm expecting some good reading this coming week. The winner will be announced in a week. Best of luck to everyone! I hope that we'll see a lot of you at this show anyway. It should be good fun.
Enjoy your Saturday night.
Love, Power, Peace

Thursday, December 01, 2005

By McCartney's Mullet [Show Recap]

Hey Soul Mates,
I'm speechless. Literally. I haven't blown out my pipes like that in years. My throat was acting up from lack of sleep and the hysteria at the McCartney show last night. But we made it to the end. I couldn't get near the high notes in A Talent For Loving and did the song 2 octaves lower than usual. Fortunately, we had a good crowd and we rolled with them like they were "student body right." Ha Ha.

We put on a lively show, starting with Fall Out. We did an extended intro to Sucka and I'm proud to say, I didn't hurt myself leaping at the end of the song tonight. Our MySpace friend Lola from Georgetown had put in a request for Done Lost My Mind, so we dedicated it to her. And after plugging MySpace, our good friend Kurt, who works with the site, presented me with a paper rose. How sweet. We wish all of you could have been there. Those who were there, thanks for helping us rock the hizzie.

Set List:
Fall Out
Everyone's Ingenue
U Had The $
Done Lost My Mind

Hold On, I'm Comin'
A Talent For Loving

Plus we had the Double P's: Pat on video, Patty on photo documenting the night. Pictures at 11 tomorrow. I've gotta get some beauty rest. I have to get the voice in fighting shape for our night with DeBarge, Dec. 14 @ the Rumba Room. I'm sleeping til 9 and I don't care if I'm late to work. The man can kiss my... G'night.
Love, Power, Peace.

I Got Blisters On My Fingers

Hey Soul Mates,
we had a smashing time at the Paul McCartney show at Staples last night. Sadly, the rest of the audience didn't seem to be feeling it. The setlist may have had a lot to do with it. Paul opened with Magical Mystery Tour, Flaming Pie, I'll Get You (the flip of She Loves You) and Jet. Not exactly a jump out of your seat hit parade. Regardless, the sound was crap and he was visibly perturbed about something. So it was a very slow start to the last night of the tour. Which is a shame. The crowd just didn't want to give back what the artists were giving. Macca's current backing band is a topnotch group, anchored by a vicious drummer who sang all of John's harmonies on the Beatle numbers. They really were better than last night's jaded LA audience deserved.

I roamed between two sections during the show, Bryan had waaaaaaaaay better seats than me. His were next to the stage, front row. So we got to see Paulie from about 50 feet away. He looks good at 63 and was in pretty good vocal shape til the end of the show. From below I could really get a sense of the house and what he sees from center stage. I knew that he could sense the disconnect with the audience. That must be frustrating, but he soldiered on.

In the 300 section where my seats actually were, the mix was unforgivably bad. Most of the concert-goers around us sat on their hands. They were polite, but by no means involved, except when Macca played the real chestnuts: Yesterday, Hey Jude. Some numbers like Band On The Run actually slowed the momentum to a stop. Which is strange for a song that is clearly a classic. The new songs from Chaos & Creation In The Backyard came across well, but were received poorly. An odd contrast to the recent Stones show at the Bowl, where the crowd was down with the new numbers. In fact, the LA Times called out the Stones a few days before for not including enough new material in their set. Suffice it to say, the new disc from the Rolling Stones is stronger than Paul's.

There were a number of wonderful musical surprises including I Will, For No One, I'll Follow The Sun (with multiple false endings), I'll Get You, and In Spite Of All The Danger. So for a hardcore McCartney fan like myself the setlist was a treat. The most blazing point of the evening was Helter Skelter. I'd seen Paul do it in the concert at Red Square, but man, that's the most intense Beatle performance, esp. since it came from the cute one. The band ripped the hell out of Helter Skelter. I wish my mates Mike & Mark could have been there. We must have attempted to play half the Beatles' catalog at some point including that one.

The second encore kicked in with Please, Please Me (another one of those songs I thought I would never hear performed live). Followed by Let It Be, Sgt. Pepper's (Reprise) and The End. The sound mix was so shitty you couldn't make out the dueling guitars during The End. A shame. At one point Paul said, "This is the last night of the tour. I just want to soak it in." He walked away from the mic and stood next to the stage scanning the audience and the venue. It was that bittersweet moment that it hit once again, what a singular talent he and the Beatles were. We are actually privileged to have had an audience with Sir Paul. You can never depend on seeing his like again.

Overall, the audience reaction, the pacing and the sound of the show were poor. The songs, the performance and the joy which Paul brings to the very difficult task of living up to his own legend: all aces.

Well, the car's in the shop and you don't need me to tell you "that's no fun." Fortunately all the credit cards are maxxed out so it almost doesn't make any difference. Don't worry, I'll still be at the show. That means you better be there, too! You only have a few more hours to pick out what you are wearing. In honor of Little Richard, I'm wearing my vintage, blue sharkskin jacket. Whoooooo! I'll be writing more about Richard and the Beatles this week. Richard is turning 75 and we're at the 25th anniversary of Lennon's assassination.

I just walked back from the KFC up the block. I know people are boycotting the Colonel and all, but KFC's popcorn chicken is crack. A few months ago, I actually raised hell at that franchise up the street because they said it was a seasonal item. I'm like, baby it's popcorn chicken season year 'round. Of course, I found a place in Pasadena where they looked at me like I was from Neptune when I told them my neighborhood KFC didn't carry it all the time. And then, we went into our local KFC a few weeks ago, when we saw the popcorn boxes on display. The girl behind the counter said, "Oh, we're out. More should be coming in tomorrow." I said don't advertise what you can't sell. I told her she needed to make a few calls and help a brother out. Anyway, I think I ate half the box before getting back to the apartment.

Time to chill out before the show. Had to do my own hair, because my girl, Monica broke her wrist. I did not cut my own hair, just put it into place. Get better soon, Monica. This mane is getting outta control!

Love, Power, Peace